Beginning in the 2025-2026 academic year, one significant barrier to receiving career development experience for students in the Department of Economics and the School of Public Administration will be reduced. Thanks to a generous gift from Goldman Sachs Gives, a $500,000 endowment has been created to subsidize unpaid or low-paid internship opportunities through the Goldman Sachs Gives Public Service in Health Care Award.

Career development opportunities are paramount to a student’s educational and professional success because they provide vital experience in their chosen fields and help them build the connections necessary for future job prospects.

Far too often, however, students interested in public service careers are faced with the choice of taking part in these experiences for little to no pay, the impact of which can be devastating.  

“Our students...are intelligent and tend to be first-generation students who often have to work while attending school to help support themselves and their families. Some are parents; others live in very remote areas with little available transportation and challenging commutes,” said Patria de Lancer Julnes, director of the School of Public Administration. “That’s a lot of pressure. Thus, when they have to choose between advancing a future career by taking on an internship preventing them from helping their families, their first choice will be helping their families. This subsidy will remove some pressure and allow them to invest time in career development opportunities.”

“In my experience, it is not uncommon for students to miss out on internship opportunities because they simply cannot afford to work for little or no pay,” said Melissa Binder, chair of the Department of Economics. “Getting hands-on experience is so important for securing a job post-graduation, and there is definitely an equity gap for these experiences. That's because students from wealthier families often don't have to have a job over the summer. It is so frustrating to see systems of inequality replicate themselves, and this is a particularly unfortunate area because it can determine career trajectories.”

Binder explains that the endowment’s focus on health care fulfills a fundamental – and immediate – need facing our society.

“Health inequities touch on the most basic human rights: your right to stay alive! The Covid pandemic laid the inequality bare: one study found that life expectancy for people in the lowest 5 percent of the income distribution fell by 4.7 years during the pandemic, compared with only 1.2 years for people in the highest 5 percent,” said Binder. “We need to do better. We need people from the hardest hit communities to be in leadership roles in health care.”

According to de Lancer Julnes, this endowment will also fulfill a significant state need. Students with declared majors or minors in either program can select their career development experience.

“Government in New Mexico is the largest employer. We have a unique opportunity to create a pool of well-qualified individuals to fill those jobs and have meaningful careers,” said de Lancer Julnes. “Students could select an organization, or we will connect them with organizations. In either case, we will closely supervise to ensure students have a meaningful experience.”

The Goldman Sachs Gives program is the perfect partner in ensuring that New Mexico’s future leaders are equipped with the skills and experience necessary to support the health of our diverse communities. According to their website, the program “is committed to fostering innovative ideas, solving economic and social issues, and enabling progress in underserved communities globally.”

The endowment will ensure that the Goldman Sachs Gives Public Service in Health Care Award will live on in perpetuity so that current and future generations of public service leaders will continue to benefit.

The vision for this award is largely thanks to David van der Goes, associate professor of economics, and Kate Cartwright, associate professor of public administration. Their commitment to ensuring that students receive foundational opportunities like this helped initiate this transformative gift.

Cartwright has supervised practicum and internship students in the MHA program at the School of Public Administration for the last few years. Through this work, she understood how much of an impact this award would have.

“Having the chance to pitch this idea to Goldman Sachs Gives and to receive such an enthusiastic response has been deeply rewarding,” said Cartwright. “I have a front-row seat to the difference our students make in their internships and careers; this award will amplify their impact.”

For van der Goes, a health economist, worked with the dean’s office, the UNM Foundation, and Goldman Sachs Gives to put together this award has been fulfilling. “Seeing people from so many different places come together to support UNM and our students is simply exciting,” he said.

The first recipients of the Goldman Sachs Gives Public Service in Health Care Award will be selected for the Summer of 2025. Application information will be available through the Department of Economics and School of Public Administration’s websites in early 2025.